Imagine a 29 gram ring that the visually challenged could wear on one of those five fingers and tell you exactly how far an obstacle is, what is it, where is it going and how fast is it going? Sounds unreal? It is not, and you’ll know why.
The above mentioned — questioned rather — feat has being accomplished by a moonshot startup headquartered in Chandigarh called EmbroS. They offer wearable solutions that has simply, revolutionised the way blind mobility works.
Started in October 2015, by Abhinav Verma, the start-up already has a 1000 users under the belt and triple digit growth on a monthly basis. These founders’ vision to develop breakthrough products for the visually impaired has made this company one of the top 3 Hardware Technologies in India.
Live Braille is a wearable with a ring attached. The product has a rather simple mechanism for the kind of engineering that must have gone behind it. By wearing the device on his finger, any one with visual disability can sense an obstacle within 3 metres of range.
Talking to us about this product’s design and technology philosphy, the founders say,
Mini is designed in the USA and manufactured in India. Every single device is Computer tested, Simulated and eventually tested by a true visually challenged subject.
The same is made possible with haptic feedback (yup, those tiny vibrations you enjoy on your iPhones are finally being used for something real) caused by the product when an obstacle is in 3 Meters range. Live Braille’s feedback mechanism helps a visually impaired to identify how far is an object is. EmbroS has 2 versions of the product, a Mini version (with an advanced Mini E as well) and a Pro one — and trust me, it isn’t just the price or the specs differing here, there’s a whole lot of engineering difference between the two versions.
Lets get to the Mini and Mini E versions first.
Live Braille Mini has a sensing range of 3.5 Meters with a performance speed of True 50Hz (50 times a second). Their 20 Degree VHR Sonics high resolution and intelligent measurement system helps users differentiate between walls, people, bushes and fences. The intensity of the vibrations created by mini is directly proportional to the distance of the obstacle.
And while you would think that is enough, the hardware also determines whether an object is soft or hard, how fast it is moving and what direction it is navigating in. The Ring uses Immersion 2200 compliant high definition Haptics to convey direction, distance and speed of the object in the direction the user points the ring.
In a nutshell, the mini version helps the visually impaired to identify the following tasks with near perfect accuracy :
- How far is the object as the intensity of the vibrations are directly proportional to the distance of the obstacle,
- What kind of object it is – soft or hard.
- How fast the object is moving and in what direction.
and all of that, via Haptic feedback.
A more advanced version of the Mini product is the newly launched Mini E. The Live Braille Mini E has got an inbuilt storage of 32GB which can act as a storage to audiobooks, recordings, textbooks. The same is accessible via reversible high speed USB Micro C type jack. Mini E also has an added capability to read books in all audio formats including .mp3, .wav, etc.
Live Braille Pro on the other hand uses light instead of sound to facilitate the same experience to the visually impaired. EmbroS is looking to launch the Pro version in the coming months and hasn’t offered much details on the same. The company does claim, that this ‘Pro’ device will allow the visually impaired to have a near-360 degree view, with an ability to feel ‘3000 objects at a time!‘.
Embro S has also come up with Live Braille Freedom (tailor made EMIs) schemes and Live Braille Experience (Lease out) schemes to extend the experience to greater number of people.
All of these rings pass through 30 Quality checks and accuracy mapping upto 1 Million readings. (these checks and mappings are for the most basic version — the Mini IN)
Reports suggest that there are 1.3 billion People globally who face challenges across three general disability areas, dexterity, cognition and sensory issues. The market for Visually Impaired products for 330 million people has an annual disposable income of $1.2 Trillion — with $544 Billion of that coming from the US alone.
Launched in ChinaBang Awards by TechCrunch in March this year, the company has already clocked revenues of $110,000.
Being one of the world’s first human augmentation company, EmbroS has been recognized by the Indian PM Narendra Modi and Former Indian President, Late Dr APJ Abdul Kalam at the Indian Science Congress. Their team of 10 people is working hard to make assistive technology more accessible.
Penetration of quality education for the visually challenged has always been a critical problem not only because they cannot independently commute to education places but also because the mode of education is not trivial. Live braille Education claims to solve this problem by delivering education in a completely digital format automated by the Mini.
EmbroS is capitalizing on a booming market which is evolving at a Compound Annual Growth Rate of 6.9% to build the Apple for assistive mobility. With more than 100 Million PWD’s (persons with Disability) in India, out of which almost 51% are visually impaired and Live Braille presents a scalable commercial opportunity of 4500 crore, across product categories for PWD’s.